Three chiropractors and eight other people have been arrested and charged with various offenses for their alleged roles in two separate schemes in which “runners” were used to recruit patients to the chiropractors’ practices, according to the state attorney general’s office.
The chiropractors are Scott Greenberg, 51 of Franklin (Somerset), Christopher Montana, 39, of Chester, and Fernando Barese, 39, of Washington (Bergen). They practice in New Brunswick, Newark, Elizabeth, Jersey City and Perth Amboy.
The chiropractors were arrested on Wednesday at their residences, and detectives also arrested a number of runners. The investigation is ongoing.
As charged in the complaints, Greenberg, Montana and Barese used runners to identify and contact people who had recently been involved in traffic accidents. The runners would then recruit those individuals to undergo chiropractic treatment. The chiropractors paid the runners money for recruiting patients. The recruitment of patients by the runners, and the subsequent treatment, enabled the chiropractors to file claims for payment from multiple insurance companies.
New Jersey law includes an “anti-running statute,” which imposes criminal penalties for acting as a runner or a physician or attorney employing one. The anti-running statute carries a presumptive sentence of three to five years in state prison, as well as other penalties.
“These alleged schemes involved chiropractors recruiting runners and runners recruiting patients, all in the name of greed,” state Attorney General Paula T. Dow said. “Such conduct corrupts the insurance system because it gives powerful financial incentives that can influence a doctor’s treatment decisions to maximize insurance billings.”
The Perth Amboy police and the FBI played roles in the investigation.
“Insurance fraud is a major reason why New Jersey’s insurance rates, especially auto insurance rates, are among the highest in the nation,” Chillemi said. “The Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who use running schemes to defraud insurance companies, and in turn, insurance consumers, who often bear the cost of such fraud through increased premiums.”
The Insurance Fraud Prosecutor charged Greenberg and six “runners” for their roles in an alleged scheme to bring patients to Greenberg’s practice.
The complaints state that between February 2010 and the present, the runners were paid a total of over $130,000 to recruit numerous patients to his practice. Based on the investigation to date, runners were paid approximately $500 to over $1500 per patient in the alleged scheme, and over fifty patients were recruited.
Greenberg is charged with conspiracy, money laundering, health care claims fraud, misconduct by a corporate official and criminal use of runners. Greenberg is the owner of the New Jersey Chiropractic & Rehabilitations Centres, with its office located at 184 Livingston Ave. in New Brunswick.
In addition, four runners are charged with conspiracy, money laundering, health care claims fraud, money laundering, and criminal use of runners. They are Orlando Sanchez, 44, of Perth Amboy; Jimmy A. Tovar, 35, of Perth Amboy; Abel Tirado, 36, of Allentown, Pa.; and Andres D. Sanchez Munoz, 42, of Perth Amboy.
Montana and Barrese are charged with conspiracy, money laundering, filing false and fraudulent tax returns, commercial bribery and use of runners.
Montana and Barrese are the owners of Chiropractic Centre of Elizabeth, Chiropractic Centre of Newark and Chiropractic Centre of Jersey City.
The complaints allege that Montana, Barrese and Oleg Gorodetsky, 41, of Staten Island, the office manager of Chiropractic Centre of Jersey City, conspired to use runners, and to engage in financial transactions which facilitated their scheme, or which concealed the source of money derived from the scheme. In this case, the runners recruited over 50 patients. Gorodetskyis charged with money laundering, commercial bribery and use of runners.
Alcindor Robin, 56, of Elizabeth, is charged with conspiracy, health care claims fraud and use of runners. The complaint alleges that Robin acted as a runner by soliciting patients to receive medical treatment from Montana and Barese who intended to file claims with insurance companies. It is further alleged that, between January 2006 and the present, Montana and Barrese filed fraudulent tax returns.
As part of the investigation, insurance fraud detectives searched the Chiropractic Centre of Elizabeth at 426 Morris Ave.; Chiropractic Centre of Newark, at 509 Orange St., Newark; Chiropractic Centre of Jersey City, at 30 Central Ave.; Paramount Chiropractic and Rehabilitation, at 330 State St. in Perth Amboy, and the doctors‘ homes.
Both investigations remain ongoing, as do asset forfeiture efforts. Because the charges are indictable offenses, the allegations must be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.